Category Archives: Norway

A Quick Guide to Culinary Norway in 4 Cities

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Nordic Food is certainly in the spotlight right now, from Danish Michelin stars to Scandi fusion that mixes with Japanese minimalism. In Reykjavik, diners have to notoriously book months in advance at the popular restaurant Dill. In Copenhagen, chefs are taking the culinary world by storm.

Norway is certainly not going to be left out of the Nordic joy. It’s gone from standard, home-traditional food, to more daring culinary experiences in just the past few years. Here are some of Norway’s awesome foodie capitals to check out!

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Oslo

The foodie trail starts in Oslo, home to three-star Michelin and the whipsmart Maaemo that is more phenomenon than anything. Take advantage of the ocean’s proximity with fresh fish and shellfish. Maaemo has been voted as one of the world’s best places to eat by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. Budgets never fear, as there are exceptional joints from the Thai-based Plah, Japanese Alex Sushi, Omakase by Alex Cabiao, Francaphone À l’aise, and the pintxos place TXOTX. Like most Scandinavian cities, the locals love their cafés and food markets, so don’t hesitate to grab teh food trucks and stalls at Mathallen and Vippa.

More tips on the New Nordic from AFAR. 

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Trondheim

Take to Trondheim’s kitchens for hyperlocal menus that are always on the lookout for experimental, yet wholesome ways to celebrate food. You might want to try Credo, To Rom og Kjøkken, Astrum Skybar, 73 Bar og Restaurant, the seafood restaurant Havfruen Sjømatrestaurant, and Fagn. There’s also the creative Røst Teaterbistro, Sellanraa Bok & Bar, that do wonders with local suppliers, fresh, seasonal ingredients harvested from the region’s fjords and Nordic mountains.

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Stavanger

There’s more to Stavanger than its hikes–the city is home to daring culinary adventurers. Though relatively small, the food scene is as vibrant as any other region in Norway, with a host of food and drink festivals and creative bistros like Skagen, Gaffel and karaffell, Hall Toll, Salza and Spiseriet. If you’re in town this summer, don’t miss Gladmatfestivalen and Stavanger Vinfestival. And if you’re in Norway and not planning a trip to Stavanger–why not!?

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Bergen

Top off your culinary enthusiasm in Bergen, nestled between cozy fjords, and islands on the North Sea. Prime location for excellent seafood, and the Fisketorget outdoor fish market is a must. Bergen likes to experiment with its surrounding nature, with Cornelius, where you can observe your fish dish literally being caught in front of you–and at Sky:Skraperen, which perched on Bergen’s highest mountain Ulriken, rewards with a breathtaking view of the fjord below.

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Travel News: New Pilots in Demand

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World’s Airlines Need To Train 70 New Pilots A Day Over Next 10 Years
The world’s airlines need to train 70 new pilots a day over the next 10 years to meet growing demand, CAE study says. Pilots are aging and the profession has lost its appeal, leaving airlines to scramble to find the 255,000 new bodies needed. A new report just released by CAE, a Montreal-based aviation training company, says about 255,000 pilots must enter the global commercial aviation profession in the next 10 years in order to meet growing passenger demand and replace retiring pilots. According to the CAE’s Airline Pilot Demand Outlook, rapid airline fleet expansion and substantial passenger growth combined with high pilot retirement rates means that airlines will need to train 70 new pilots per day to meet global demand. Growth will also require 180,000 first officers to be trained to airline captains, more than in any other decade, the report says. 
 
Venice Cruise Traffic Plateaus For Now
Ongoing vessel tonnage restrictions in Venice have capped cruise traffic for now, with a limit of 96,000 tons. In 2017 the classic Italian port is looking at a forecast of 473 calls and just over 1.4 million passengers, which is down from 2016. Next year looks set to be similar to 2017. Meanwhile, government officials are still working to lock down an alternative route for larger ships to reach the port facilities. Future growth will need to depend on the identification and availability of a new alternative route for ships to reach port facilities, thus allowing large ships to use Venice again. The port spokesperson said that they want to increase their weekday call portfolio. VTP offers 10 terminal choices.
Frankfurt To Impose A Tourism Levy On Leisure Travelers
TR Newsletter reports The German city of Frankfurt is hoping for a new tourism levy to add several million euros to the city. All leisure visitors of Frankfurt will pay the fee per night starting next year. The tourists will have to pay the so-called tourism fee in their hotels or accommodation in addition to the room rate. The Mayor and Chamberlain Uwe Becker said that the tourism levy should be between 1.50 and 2.50 euros per person per night. The exact amount has not yet been fixed. Despite the fact that businesses travelers will not pay the new levy, it will annually take in millions to the town hall. Approximately, 30% percent of the almost nine million overnight stays in the city account to leisure travelers. A revenue of six million euros per year is, thus, likely to be easy to achieve. Since the new levy is a contribution and not a tax, the revenues will not be included in the general budget, but only used for a specific purpose. The revenues should be used to improve the tourism infrastructure and expand marketing of Frankfurt. A large part of the proceeds could benefit the marketing activities of the urban tourism and congress society.
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G Adventures Is Expanding Into Coastal Norway
G Adventures is expanding into coastal Norway in 2017, in addition to its programs in Antarctica and the Arctic, according to the 2017 Expedition Cruise Market Report. The adventure travel company also has a presence in the Galapagos and bought the Swan Hellenic brand in January, in addition to other travel brands Just You and Travelsphere. In Antarctica, the season is at its maximum length, according to Heller, starting in mid-October and running through mid-March on the company-owned Expedition, a 134-passenger ship.
 
 
Trondheim Targeting Offseason and Homeporting Buildup
A renovated runway at Værnes, the international airport in Trondheim, will be open in time for the 2018 cruise season. This will lead to the re-introduction of Pullmantur using Trondheim as a turnaround port. “We are expecting 79 calls for 2017 with 130,000 passengers, which will be an all-time high,” said Maria Kühnl, cruise coordinator. “Among them will be 10 off-season calls and five overnight stays. “Trondheim is the ideal port to start or end a cruise in Norway. We are located in the heart of Norway from which you can either go south or north. We can accommodate thousands of visitors and have proven that we can handle big turnover operations”
the port is keen on building both winter and over-night stays. The port has plans to add new bollards to its cruise quay to handle larger ships, and plans are in the works to extend the parking area for shore excursion buses.
 
Heathrow Loses Its Position As Europe’s Largest Airport
Travelmole reports Amsterdam’s Schiphol has overtaken Heathrow as Europe’s largest airport for direct flights. According to the Airports Council International (ACI) Europe, Schiphol has risen from sixth place in 10 years. It put the reason for its growth partly down to the rise of low-cost carriers, which now make up 21% of its direct flights. Heathrow’s growth, on the other hand, has been constrained by a lack of capacity. Frankfurt, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Istanbul Ataturk airport make up the rest of the top five airports for direct flights. ACI Europe’s airport industry connectivity report found that for the second year in a row, direct flights are growing at a faster rate than indirect and connecting flights. It said this reflected the expansion of low-cost carriers on both short and medium haul markets and ‘the relative retrenchment of network carriers’. ACI said that over the past 10 years, 99% of the growth in passenger traffic of the top 20 European airports has been delivered by low-cost carriers. Low-cost carriers have moved into larger airports and hubs, and they are now making inroads into the long haul market. Europe’s airports will see 87 long haul routes being operated by low-cost carriers this summer, up from 14 just four years ago. The next step – which Ryanair has just started experimenting, is to offer feed to network carriers or even develop their own connecting product. Frankfurt still boasts the highest number of connecting flights, followed by Amsterdam, Dallas-Fort Worth, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Atlanta. Abu Dhabi has been the fastest-growing hub since 2007, followed by Delhi and Guangzhou.
 

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Travel News: Virgin America to be retired in 2019

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Mount Etna Eruptions

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued a travel alert warning travelers that Italy’s Mount Etna has been erupting with increasing frequency. The warning comes after tourists suffered minor injuries at the active volcano in Sicily. A BBC camera crew on the mountain filmed a big explosion which pelted a group with boiling rocks and steam. About eight people were injured and some had to be evacuated by mountain rescue teams after lava flow mixed with steam triggered the blast. According to BBC science reporter Rebecca Morelle, a volcanologist at the scene said it was the most dangerous incident he had seen in his 30-year-career. Travelers are advised to visit the Italian Civil Protection website for more information. 

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Virgin America to be retired in 2019

Alaska Airlines Group has announced that the Virgin America brand will be retired in 2019. “While the Virgin America name is beloved to many,” Alaska VP of Marketing Sangita Woerner said. “We concluded that to be successful on the West Coast we had to do so under one name – for consistency and efficiency, and to allow us to continue to deliver low fares.” Last December, Alaska Airlines completed the $2.6 billion acquisition of Virgin America, and Alaska Airlines is now the nation’s fifth largest – behind American, Delta, United, and Southwest. According to Alaska, it plans to overhaul its operation to give passengers a more “Virgin-esque” experience that VA is currently admired for: a new satellite-based wifi system, free inflight movies, redesigned interiors with mood lighting, more stylish crew uniforms, upgraded airport lounges, more premium seating, and more complimentary upgrades.

NCL Raising Cost Of Gratuities

Norwegian Cruise Line is raising gratuities on April 1st from $13.50 per person, per day, to $13.99, on all ships except the Norwegian Sky. Daily gratuities for standard cabins on the Norwegian Sky will increase to $18.99 (an increase over 40%). NCL will increase daily gratuities for suites from $15.50 to $16.99 on all of its ships except for the Sky where it will charge $21.99. 

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Tahiti Embarks on 2020 Plan, New Cruise Terminal

Tahiti Tourism is embarking on an $8 million international cruise terminal project due for completion in 2020. The terminal will be located in the center of Papeete and will accommodate up to three ships simultaneously and 2,000 turnaround passengers. The North Pier will measure 300 meters in length; the South Pier 350 meters.

There are no cabotage rules governing Tahiti so cruise ships can sail a more varied itinerary among Tahiti’s 118 islands. Planned amenities include an aerial walk, luggage room, check-in counters, waiting room, duty free, snack bar/café and reservations facilities. Concurrently, Papeete is planning a $12 million upgrade of its airport which is 3 km from the cruise port. Upon completion of the upgrade the airport will be able to accommodate three departures (up to 950 passengers) at the same time.  

Panama Canal to Introduce New Scheduling System

Ships in the Panama CanalQuintiq said that its software has been selected by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to plan, schedule and optimize all vessels transit operations through the Canal “to reduce costs, improve safety and increase overall efficiency and reliability. This system will help carry that legacy forward, allowing us to tap the potential of technology to provide better solutions for our customers as we increasingly manage more transits and adapt to shifts in global trade.” Quintig is a Dassault Systèmes brand. The Quintiq solution will change how the Panama Canal plans and schedules transit operations. For the first time, the Canal will be able to execute a completely integrated operating plan for all of its critical resources, including tugboats, pilots and line handlers. The new solution will impact shippers looking to transit the waterway by shortening vessel waiting times, increasing the number of potentially available vessel slots each day and improving the overall reliability of the route. Quintiq will be fully integrated into Canal operations over the course of the next two years. 

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World’s First Ship Tunnel To Be Built In Norway

Norway has approved the financing of an ambitious project to build the world’s first full-size tunnel for ships. The tunnel will be 45 meters high, 36 meters wide and 1.7 kilometers long, and be constructed through the Stad peninsula on the west coast of Norway. The tunnel will be designed to accommodate 16,000-tonne cargo and passenger ships with a draft up to 12 meters. The tunnel will provide a safe journey around Stad, laying the foundation for the region’s industrial development and establishment as a world-class tourist destination. The tunnel will allow up to 120 vessels to travel under a mountain rather than navigate the dangerous waters of the Stadhavet Sea, which experiences about 100 storm days annually. At least 33 people have lost their lives in the area since the end of the Second World War, according to reports. The project is expected to take a decade to complete. 

 Canada Looks At Joining US And Britain On Electronics Ban For Flights 

The Globe and Mail reports Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Canada is evaluating intelligence passed on by the United States to determine if it should require passengers traveling from some Middle East countries to pack all large electronic devices other than mobile cellphones in their checked baggage. US Homeland Secretary John Kelly spoke by telephone Tuesday with Mr. Garneau to explain why the Trump administration has ruled that only cellphones and smartphones will be allowed in the passenger cabin of flights into the United States from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries. Mr. Garneau would not say what type of security threat the Americans are concerned about, but it was reported by The New York Times that intelligence showed Islamic State is developing a bomb hidden in portable electronics. 

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The Next Best Destinations for 2017

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Happy New Year, dear Readers! We’ve made past the end of 2016, hopefully with some fun and meaningful travel memories racked up. But what does 2017 have in store for the traveler? Here are our Top Destinations in 2017:

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Cruise ship in Isafjordur, the West Fjords of Iceland

1. Iceland

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that Iceland has once again made the list. In the past 10 years, Iceland’s popularity as a travel destination soared to immense heights, capping 1 billion travelers to this dynamic Atlantean rock in the summer of 2016 alone. Most travelers have visited the gorgeous Golden Circle and the Glacier Lagoon, maybe even ridden an Icelandic horse or spied the Northern Lights–but what’s next for Iceland in 2017? Traveling a bit more off-the-beaten path, to Lake Myvatn area, to the West Fjords and the Westman Isles. We’ll have to see what this magical Viking isle has in store for us!

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Lake Bled in Slovenia

2. Slovenia (& the Balkans)

If you haven’t discovered this off-the-beaten-path trek in Europe, what are you waiting for? Slovenia is the oft-cited “playground of Europe,” with a range of activities to attract the thrill-seeker. Spelunking, hang-gliding, jet-skiing are just some of the more popular pursuits. Plus there are few city centers as pristine as Ljubljana’s. A great way to see the Balkan countries is to rent a car and spend a few weeks traveling around war-wounded Sarajevo, culturally bobbing Belgrade, and Croatia’s exquisite Dalmatian coast.

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Białowieża Forest, Poland

3. Australia & New Zealand

Australia & New Zealand have always been a popular destination for families, couples and backpackers alike. Sydney boasted the “best fireworks in the world” at the Opera this New Year’s Eve. Tazmania might just be the next prime hiking destination, with multi-day excursions and luxury ecolodges. And NZ has an array of fun food-themed fetes to enjoy, kicking off with Auckland Seafood Festival in January and then Marlborough Wine & Food Festival come February. Though the Northern Lights have attracted some fair attention these past few years, the Southern Hemisphere has it’s own bragging right: the unparalleled Southern Cross!

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River Boat sailing through Chicago, USA

4. River Cruises in North America

Domestic travel usually has to offer something unique to attract travelers, and we believe river cruises are that unique option. There seems to be no end to high quality river and lake cruises: the Great Lakes, roundtrip Nashville on the Mississippi River, Montreal and the eastern seaboard, and the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. Themes range from southern style comfort on the Mississippi to the pioneer history of the Oregon Trail. River cruises are small-scale, comfortable, unhurried cruises in American history that often sail year-round–without the spectacle afforded on ocean cruises. Plus one major advantage over Europe or South America: shorter flights to get there (if any)!

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Lisbon, Portugal

5. Portugal

Warm beach weather, delicious cuisine, and a charming ambiance makes Portugal a global destination. Lisbon has all the Old World beauty of a European small town, and the coastline draws its fair share of beachgoers and world-class surfers. In terms of food and wine, Portugal will certainly peak your interest, and the easygoing temperance of the locals will make you feel at home in no time.

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Oslo, Norway

6. Scandinavia

Though oft-cited as the most expensive destination in Europe, Scandinavia remains one of the best “bang-for-your-buck” destinations in the world. Thanks to recent trends following the Northern Lights and Iceland’s natural attractions, the region is receiving all the attention it deserves. World-class restaurants, leisurely cafes, and interactive museums still place it at the top of the list (and the map!). Not to mention how easy and accessible most travelers find Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Reykjavik–most of the population are friendly, curious, polite and speak English.

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Reindeer in Finland

7. Finland & Estonia

Finland celebrates 100 years of independence from Russia in 2017, and a spirit of unity will be rampant in every town and city. Wander 39 national parks or visit the laid-back seaside capital, view the Northern Lights or take a dip in the local sauna. Helsinki has the familiarity and design-conscious layout of a Scandinavian town, with a cultural flair that’s uniquely Finnish. Estonia is also growing on the tourist horizon–Tallinn as a leading city of technology and entrepreneurship. Its heritage is part Baltic, with smatterings of Soviet Union and Finnish influence. A popular way to visit is via a cruise to the Baltic region–many of our clients have come back from a cruise excursion with tales of Tallinn’s enchanting city center.

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Paris, France

8. France

Throughout the centuries, France has never lost its charms. Even through recent security issues have scared off some travelers, the Loire chateaux, Bordeaux wines and sun-baked sands of the Riviera are still there and thriving. After a shaky 2016, France is bouncing back in a big way, and tourist bookings have increased exponentially for 2017. Tourists seem to have their eyes on provincial towns and the hidden secrets of the countryside. Is this the time to finally check out the Champagne region, or go wine-tasting in the Dordogne Valley?

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1950s/60s Cars in Cuba

9. Cuba

With relaxing entry regulations, Cuba has received quite the attention these past two years. The response from group travelers and cruise ship passengers has been wildly enthusiastic. Over 2 million travelers visited the island in the first half of 2016, compared to just 63,000 in 2010. But that may all change soon–some travel industry experts fear that the Trump administration will restrict travel there in the future. So now might be your only chance in a while to travel to the “Pearl of the Antilles.”

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The Majestic African Elephant

10. Africa Destinations: Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and South Africa.

Africa remains an ever-popular destination, with senior couples and large families booking safari trips in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. These regions are still within reasonable budget to catch a glimpse of wildebeest, lions, antelopes. South Africa is world-famous for their natural diversity and local cuisine, catering to all flavors and styles. Immerse yourself on a game drive in Kruger National Park, or indulge in wine-tasting in Boberg or the Breede River Valley. We’re proud also to include Namibia on our list. As some of our readers know, WIT Owners Christina and John guided a merry band through the red sands of Namibia. The landscape is like no other, with miles upon miles of arid desert, dotted with unique wildlife and local tribes who paint themselves with ochre. We expect to see a rise in interest for Namibia in 2017, and now you can receive firsthand travelers’ experience at our office in Portland.

Do you have a favorite travel memory or photo from 2016? We’d love to hear about it! Share with us in the comments!

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Filed under Africa, Baltic, Croatia, Cruises, Cuba, Estonia, Europe, Finland, Iceland, Kenya, Namibia, North America, Norway, Poland, portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, tanzania, USA

Hurtigruten: Exclusive Norway Voyage with NASA Astronaut Dr. Thagard

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Hurtigruten cruise line is offering a once-in-a-lifetime cruise on their ship Astronaut next March! Join a NASA astronaut exploring the skies above Norway’s west coast! This season is a wonderful time to visit—not as cold as midwinter, but still crisp and clear. Get a chance to glimpse the brilliant and beautiful Northern Lights — a Hurtigruten Promise.

March 21, 2017 Departure — 8 days / 7 nights — Exclusive Voyage with NASA Astronaut Dr. Thagard

This special voyage follows Hurtigruten’s Classic Voyage South, and includes special lectures from Dr. Thagard, with viewings of documentaries about the 115-day Russian Mir-18 mission and Dr. Thagard’s experience as a cosmonaut on the mission. If you love space, there’s no excuse to miss this opportunity!

Dr. Thagard is a decorated Marine Corps veteran, and has logged over 140 days in space on 5 space flights. He performed many NASA ‘firsts’ including deployment and retrieval exercises, conducting medical tests, and launching the first planetary probe from the Shuttle.

Book with your agent at Willamette Intl Travel — we’ve sent many clients on Hurtigruten’s ships and can confidently say that they are one of the best for expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctica.

Explore the Arctic Sky with a NASA Astronaut

Travel the Norwegian coast with former astronaut Dr. Norm Thagard, veteran of 5 space flights and 140 days in space, and hear his stories about life in the sky.

Northern Lights Promise

Hurtigruten is confident you will witness the elusive and  hauntingly beautiful northern lights on your 12-day winter Coastal Voyage with them.

A Stargazer’s Journey

These special astronomy winter voyages in Norway include long polar nights for stargazing, astronomy talks from experts, a visit to the Northern Lights Planetarium, plus their Northern Lights Promise.

Seeking Northern Lights

Get a front row seat to the northern lights on a 6-day winter Coastal Voyage, plus exhilarating, exclusive excursions across the snowy terrain, and sparkling winter views.

Winner of Multiple Awards

More than 5,500 travel agents voted Hurtigruten the ‘Best  Expedition Cruise Line’ in the 2016 WAVE Awards.

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Itinerary

  • Day 1: Kirkenes – Berlevåg
  • Day 2: Mehamn – Tromsø
  • Day 3: Tromsø – Stamsund
  • Day 4: Bodø to Rørvik
  • Day 5: Trondheim – Ålesund
  • Day 6: Ålesund – Bergen

Includes

  • Transfers
  • 1 Night in Kirkenes before your voyage, incl. breakfast
  • Aurora Safari private tour in Kirkenes, with a visit to the SnowHotel
  • Kirkenes to Bergen voyage, with full-board
  • Cocktail reception with Dr. Thagard and Hurtigruten ship captain
  • Hammerfest City Tour & Excursion to Meridian Monument
  • 2 lectures and film screenings
  • 3-hour city tour in Bergen, transfer to hotel
  • 1 Night in Bergen after your voyage, incl. breakfast

Check out Hurtigruten’s gorgeous Instagram page!

Call Willamette Intl Travel for more details and to find out if there’s still “space.” 😉 Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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